The Use of Literary Classics in Teaching Medical Ethics to Physicians

Steven M. Radwany, MD; Bernard H. Adelson, MD, PhD
JAMA. 1987;257(12):1629-1631. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390120091030.
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ETHICS is the division of philosophy that deals with questions of right and wrong and with the moral consequences of human actions and inactions. Medical ethics comprises those ethical issues pertaining to health care. There is widespread agreement that the discussion of ethical issues arising from the practice of medicine ought to be an integral part of the education of every physician.2 Such discussions have been shown to leave physicians feeling better prepared to address the bewildering array of ethical issues and moral dilemmas encountered daily in their clinical practice.3 Yet few agree on the means to this end.

Some educators prefer to emphasize the humanities in premedical education.4 Others advocate an integrated medical school curriculum, with didactic instruction in medical ethics during the preclinical years, enhanced by patient-centered ethical discussions during the final two years.5,6 Such an approach would parallel the progression from science to


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The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
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